Beneath the gleaming skyscrapers and picturesque facade of the City of Redemption lies another city; a community of dark and ancient magic populated by creatures of the night. Dark Redemption is a shared-world novel based on an online role-playing game by James Crowther.
Cassandra True has discovered that her roommate Cecily has become involved with a vampire and has confronted her about the subject. In order to gain her friend’s trust, Cassandra decides to share her own apprehensions and concerns about her own relationship with Strephon.
Cassandra made a couple fresh cups of coffee and sat back down on the couch with Cecily. She told the whole story, from the day she met Strephon in the lobby of Aeser Technologies, through the wolf attack and the dinner party with Aeserman and her date with Strephon at the Club Cyba-Netsu and her ordeal with mad Mrs. Morrigan and above all, her strange dreams. Cecily squirmed a little when Cassandra described seeing the vampire waiter at the Cyba-Netsu and her ensuing conversation with Ms Kuriyama, but Cassandra did not pursue that particular subject and continued with her story. She finished up with her discovery of the strange parallels between what she knew about Strephon and the character in the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta.
“So… this Strephon is a fairy from the waist up?” Cecily said when she had finished.
Cassandra felt her cheeks burn. Put that way, it did sound stupid. “Well…”
“And his legs are mortal. What about the parts in-between?”
“You would ask that question. And what about you? You almost made out with a ghost!”
“I didn’t know he was a ghost! Besides, everyone believes in ghosts; no one believes in fairies.”
“Arthur Conan Doyle believed in both.” Cecily gave a snort in response. “And what about Wisp and Banshee? They were certainly something supernatural. And don’t tell me you don’t believe in the supernatural.”
“Okay, okay. I was just playing Devil’s Somethinger’nother.” Cecily paused a moment to give Cassandra time to sip her coffee. “How does he feel about you?”
Cassandra grimaced. “That’s just it. He keeps me at arm’s length. But he keeps seeing me. So I don’t know.”
“Hmm…” Cecily gave her cup a little swirl. “That could mean he’s jerking you around, which means you should run away as fast as you can. Or it could mean he’s afraid of a relationship but likes you too much to stay away. How do you feel about him?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out.”
“Then let’s put it this way. What bothers you the most; that he’s not exactly human, or that he’s been lying to you?”
Cassandra looked down at her coffee. That really was the question she’d been trying to avoid. Cecily was incredibly perceptive when it came to everybody’s problems but her own. “Neither, I think. It’s just that ever since I met him, all these weird things have been happening; the wolves, the stuff at Aeser Technologies, Morrigan… I feel like I’m being drawn into something that I can’t understand that’s beyond my control.”
A strange, faraway look had come into Cecily’s eyes. “Yeah…” she said dreamily, “I know what you mean…”
“And I’m getting you involved too. It’s my fault!”
“What?” That seemed to catch Cecily’s attention. “No, I was the one who introduced you to the Club Cyba-Netsu, remember? I probably would have met Philippe there anyway.”
“All right then; your turn.” Cassandra set her coffee down and folded her hands in a business-like manner. “Tell me about Philippe.”
Cecily scrunched her face. But she couldn’t very well back out. “Well, for starters, he doesn’t sparkle.”
“Thank God for that.”
“I met him at the Cyba-Netsu the night after the ghost, remember? You didn’t want to come with me that night.”
Cassandra remembered. If only she had been along, maybe… But let Cecily tell her story. “Go on,” Cassandra urged.
“I saw Kuriyama that night and she invited me to sit at her table with her friends.”
“Friends meaning vampires?”
“Well, I didn’t know that at the time, now, did I? It was… You’ll laugh. It was like being at school and being invited to sit at the table with the posh kids.”
Cassandra didn’t laugh. She knew exactly what Cecily meant. She nodded encouragingly.
“Well, she introduced me to Phillippe, and he was so dark and dangerous and sexy. I didn’t know he was a vampire until he… until he did it.” No need to ask what ‘it’ was. “It was incredible. It was like he was drawing my soul into his…” Cecily’s gaze wandered off again and her voice took on a tone of dreamy bliss.
“How does he treat you? When he’s not… doing it?” Cassandra tried to keep the disapproval out of her own voice, but didn’t quite succeed.
“What do you mean?”
“As someone once told me, if he’s jerking you around you should run away, fast.”
“He treats me wonderfully. Like I’m the center of his universe. And he doesn’t jerk me around.” Cecily was starting to get defensive again.
“I’m sorry. I just keep on thinking of that one girl I saw at the Cyba-Netsu; the one who was begging the green-haired waiter to bite her. It was like she was an addict or something---“
“I’m not doing drugs!”
The suddenness of Cecily’s response startled Cassandra. “I didn’t say you were. I just–“
“We’ll I’m not! And you have no right to be making those kinds of accusations!”
Cassandra frowned. She hadn’t thought she was accusing her of anything.”
Cecily stood up, angrily. “Do you know what I think? I think you’re an uptight little bitch who’s so afraid of adventure that she can’t handle it when something a little different happens in her life!”
“Cecily, wait!” But it was too late; Cecily had already stormed back into her room.
Cassandra groaned. That had gone badly. She looked at the clock. She had two hours left to sleep before her alarm went off.
All that coffee was probably a mistake.